The Memory Pool: Reflections of Past~Forward


The long-awaited 2nd volume of stories and poems from the Past~Forward Memoir Group

THE WRITERS IN THIS  anthology belong to the Past~Forward Memoir Group, based in Charleston, Illinois. Their offerings include poems and 55-word stories as well as creative nonfiction.

The writers share memories that are bittersweet, humorous, and nostalgic. There are coming-of-age stories: a first perm or first bra. A young girl learns the meaning of prejudice. A schoolboy and his friend dream of canoeing to Canada. There are stories about animals: a beloved horse, an old dog who must come to terms with his cataracts. Some of the writers recall childhood friends. Others explore the lives of their ancestors or the history of their town.

The group has been together since 2008. The Memory Pool is their second anthology. The first,Occasional Writers appeared in 2011.

Many of the themes from Occasional Writers reappear in The Memory Pool: the importance of family ties and the complexities of human relationships. There are more stories about childhood this time around, most of them funny, some wistful, even sad. And there are more glimpses into the distant past; a few of the stories are based on historical research and hark back to the Civil War. Another addition is the 55-Word Story, a fairly new genre of writing; writers must use 55 words or fewer to capture the essence of a particular person, place, thing, or event. As the famed architect Mies van der Rohe has said, “Less is more.” The stories are often autobiographical and sometimes have surprise endings—this makes them even more fun to read. The format of The Memory Pool is also slightly different from that of Occasional Writers. Entries are arranged in alphabetical order by the authors’ last name; a brief biographical note appears after each piece. What remains the same is the enthusiasm Past~Forward writers have for sharing their memories and their willingness to be honest about often personal matters.  If anything, the writing is even better in this second volume; one of the great pleasures of working with members of Past~Forward is to see their writing sharpen and mature. Daiva Markelis

From the Foreward

Some of the stories in this volume made me laugh. Some gave me precious bits of (almost) forgotten histories. I found lyricism in the poetry and poetry in the prose. I would have loved this book even if I had not grown up in Charleston. Save the Will Rogers Theater! Krin Gabbard

Author, HOTTER THAN THAT: THE TRUMPET, JAZZ, AND AMERICAN CULTURE

A wonderful collection of personal memoir essays . . . conjuring up memories of small-town living, familiar holidays, long-forgotten relationships, and so much more. Many of the stories are poignant and thoughtful, others sweet and often funny. A nice read while cozying up to a fireplace on a brisk winter’s night! Karen Kaufman Orloff

Author, I WANNA IGUANA and I WANNA GO HOME

The Memory Pool is well worth the read.  It’s a gentle, evocative collection that will carry you into the past — both your own and those of the authors—and leave you smiling, crying, laughing and, best of all, remembering. Karen E. Hall

Author, UNREASONABLE RISK and THROUGH DARK SPACES

The stories found in this book are glimpses into the souls and life journeys of the authors. They are shared in heart-felt and expressive ways with those fortunate enough to have discovered this wonderful literary work. Tom Vance

President, FIVE MILE HOUSE FOUNDATION, Charleston, Illinois

This “Memory Pool” refreshes with reflections of tolerance, a teenage crush, the warmth of home, a lucky penny, abuse, dealing with loss, growth and much, much more. Bill Lair

Former Managing Editor, CHARLESTON TIMES-COURIER and MATTOON JOURNAL-GAZETTE

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